I firmly believe that if you’re going to put yourself through such an ordeal, be it BIAW or NaNoWriMo, you should take some time to evaluate after the event concludes. Debrief, if you will – most likely my teaching background coming back to haunt me, I always evaluated the lesson, even if it was just a quick replay of the events in my head. What went right? What went wrong? What felt good? Were your goals too high? Too low? What would you change next time? Can you pick a natural strength that emerged during the week? What was the best antidote to getting stuck? Make some notes so that the next time, you’re ready. This information will also help you in your daily writing habits.
Here’s my evaluation so far:
I am not a morning person. I get up, usually grumpy because I have to get up, struggle to pour coffee into my cup without spilling it, barely move through the motions of a routine to start the day. Now, thankfully, I work from home and don’t have to try and get out of the house on time and get to work in a semi-coherent state while at some point along the road lose my owl-y mood and plaster a smile on my face. I can just plop down in my chair and stare miserably at my computer. Therefore, writing in the morning is not the best time of day for me. And if you think I’m bad, you should see Muse!
The afternoon is a little better. I am fully awake and have had the daily ration of coffee consumed. I’ve eaten breakfast and lunch and therefore am not distracted by a grumbling tummy. But my brain is going at high speed, thoughts of work swirling through my mind and my "To Do" list close at hand. This, I find, is the best time to get the nasty housework, laundry, or other chores done. I have a physical energy that is not conducive to writing. In other words, I can’t sit still.
Now early evening is lounge time. I have a cup of tea right after supper and sprawl on the couch watching the news of the day and perhaps a sitcom or entertainment show for a half hour after that. My brain starts to slow down – anything that needed done had better been done by that time because I don’t want to worry about it after supper (Dinner? Supper? Everyone seems to use a different term for the evening meal – I wonder why that is?). This is also the time when I pick up a word puzzle or Sudoku or the weekly paper, which I devour every word, every advertisement. Writing is the last thing on my mind.
Then around 8ish, I start to imagine. The story I’m working on, the new idea that popped into my head just before I went to sleep the evening before, a blogpost idea. My brain comes alive with characters, scenes, settings. Words come quickly. Images take hold and refuse to let go until I get them down on paper or type them into the computer. With the stillness and quiet I am more likely to listen to what Muse has to say. And I am less likely to skip away to another subject or task that needs doing. 8 until midnight is my ‘magic hour’.
During BIAW, the focus is on writing and meeting goals. To do that, many of us have to write outside of our usual ‘magic hour’. Many of us raise the bar and challenge ourselves to write incredibly high daily word counts. To do that, we must write as much as possible. And we will write during times when our body, mind and soul are not in the mood to write. Many of us are editing and revising, tasks best left to when the mind is fresh and sharp. Not when it’s begging us to turn out the light and go to bed, already!
I’ve learned that I can write at all times of the day once I get my butt in the chair and focus on the task at hand. But I’ve also learned that afternoon is still not the best time. I’m too fidgety. I have too many things to do besides write. There are too many distractions. My ‘magic hour’ is still perfect, but morning is emerging as another great time to get those ideas out of my head and onto the paper. Maybe my brain is still fuzzy from sleep, my dream world still close enough that imagination is easy to grasp and willing to play.
Right now, with a day job to pay the bills, I’m going to use this information and rearrange my day. I was, up until BIAW, focused on the day job’s tasks in the morning. Now, I’m going to spend the next week using the morning hours to write, day job hours in the afternoon, and then my ‘magic hour’ to continue to write. Once I can ditch the day job and write fulltime (fingers, toes crossed), I will use that afternoon time to edit and revise. In theory, and based on my evaluation, it should work.
So, People of Blogland, when do you find is the best time to write? Do you have times of the day that are better suited for revising as opposed to creative, first draft stuff? Have you ever taken the time to evaluate your efforts after a BIAW or NaNoWriMo event?